OYSTER “BUILD A REEF” CAMPAIGN LAUNCHING THE LARGEST OYSTER RESTORATION EFFORT EVER SEEN IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY
Oysters are a keystone species to the Chesapeake Bay and provide vital water column filtering as well as habitat for reef dwelling and reef associated fishes, crabs, mussels, and other marine life. Yet, historical overharvest, pollution, and disease have left oysters to a fraction of their population, and unable to fill their essential ecological and economic roles. Fortunately, recent and dramatic changes in policy, coupled with improved scientific understanding following years of experimentation, provide a clear path forward for restoration of this iconic, keystone species. Large-scale oyster sanctuary preserves now in place, coupled with sustained funding, can turn the tide for oysters.
The Oyster Recovery Partnership has teamed up with state and federal partners in a concerted effort to accelerate the restoration of native oyster reefs and achieve an ambitious goal of twenty Bay tributaries restored by 2025. Harris Creek, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is the first targeted restoration location, and by itself represents the largest oyster restoration effort ever conducted in the Chesapeake and East Coast.
Major activities include rebuilding the reef substrate structure, planting newly constructed reefs with baby oysters to jump start the local oyster population and monitoring to evaluate project performance. As planned, billions of baby oysters will be placed within the protected sanctuary in Harris Creek, rebuilding more than 370 acres of reef. To date, we have already rebuilt 110 acres. This project will also establish a blueprint to expand large scale oyster restoration efforts to other tributaries in the Chesapeake. Only healthy estuarine habitats will support the rich variety and abundance of life once found in the Chesapeake Bay, as well as provide benefits to people economically, socially and culturally.
The Oyster Recovery Partnership is seeking to raise $1,000,000 toward oyster restoration in Harris Creek and other locations. Funding is our only holdback as ORP and our partners have the capacity to produce 2 Billion oysters and plant 500 acres per year. For every $1.00 donated, normally 50 oysters are planted. However, for this campaign, all gifts will be matched with a $3.00 for every $1.00 we raise, allowing ORP to plant 200 oysters for every $1.00 donated! Therefore, for every $5,000 raised, ORP can recycle 100 bushels of shells and plant 500,000 oysters.
ORP is listed as a top-rated nonprofit receiving the Maryland Seal of Excellence, the Guidestar Exchange Seal and is an approved nonprofit with 1% for the planet. We ensure that 95% of all donations go directly into oyster restoration. We hope that you will support this vital environmental program and help us return the Bay to population levels last seen decades ago.